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Developing mindsets through story

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

It's International Children's Book Day on Thursday 2nd April and seen as the majority of us are staying at home at the moment and we've got time on our hands, Gemma thought she'd talk to you about books. Yes, books in a time of crisis. Books to look at mindsets, books to stimulate a conversation, books to give us positivity and books to uplift us. This blog will be useful not only to our usual audience, which is the education sector, but now to parents, who are busy home-schooling their little munchkins!

What is International Children's Book Day?

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books.

Each year a different country has the opportunity to sponsor the event (a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest) and design a poster featuring country specific authors and this year's chosen country is Slovenia.

This year's ICBD is going to very different from the last, as usually there would be library visits, author readings and exhibitions, which unfortunately won't be the case. So maybe, this year you could host your own ICBD in your home, to share with family via FaceTime, or even to show your child's teacher.

What are the benefits of taking part?

The benefits of taking part in International Children’s Book Day are the same with the benefits of reading as a whole. Some of them include:

  • Brain exercise - reading engages and exercises the brain, helping it to better make neural connections.

  • Vocabulary improvement - the amount of terminology that a child uses and possesses can increase with regular reading.

  • Empathy and imagination - reading opens children up to new horizons, helping them think outside the box and engage with the outside world in ways they had not done previously.

  • Morale improvement - it should not be forgotten that reading is fun! Taking part in it will boost a child’s morale and uplift their mood.

And right now, it's the last 2 that are definitely a priority in my house.

Which books should I choose?

In terms of which books to choose to develop mindset and positivity, sure, there are some subject specific ones, but many books that you will probably already have, will be great for doing the same job. It's just a need to look at them differently, to know what questions to ask or what activities to do.

Here at Grow Your Mindset, we love stories and as teachers we understand how powerful stories can be at a time of crisis or worry. Books are clever at giving under lying messages without even realising it, that we can learn or draw experiences from when we need them.

Our Stories to Tell page has a host of read alouds that you can watch with your children, wherever you may be or you could get yourself a hard copy from your local library, book store (when they reopen) or website and snuggle up together to read.

And our Free Resources page has a great has a huge list of books that develop resilience. Some will be obvious, some of them, not so much. This is where we can help!

How I talk about mindset with my children?

So how do you get a conversation going about mindset? Now this is not an exhaustive list and won't fit every book you read with your child, but it's a start and hopefully will generate other ideas for you. You can ask during the story or at the end, it's up to you!

  1. What experiences has the character had that has changed them for the better?

  2. What does this character take for granted?

  3. How have other people in the story helped the main character?

  4. How would you feel if this was you?

  5. What advice would you give the character?

  6. How could the character turn this negative event into an opportunity?

  7. What did the character learn from their experience?

  8. Where did character fail in the story and what did they learn?

  9. How did this character show resilience in this story?

  10. Which mindset is the character showing now? How do you know?

You can always use recall questions too, especially when your child is struggling in a particular area.

1. Do you remember when.......was feeling worried/ anxious/sad. What did they do to help themselves?

2. How did ...... cope with disappointment/ nervousness etc? What can we learn from them?

3. ...........showed resilience/ bravery/ kindness. Can you remember what they did?

Remember, don't force a conversation, otherwise they'll get sick of you 'psychoanalysing' them! The best thing to do, is 'drip feed' the messages in small doses, regularly, so they hear the same thing. Their brains will start to make connections eventually, but this does take time and role model, role model, role model! If you are having a fixed mindset and experiencing negative feelings, talk to your child about it. Normalise these feelings, don't cover them up, but ask their advice of what you should do or tell them what you did to change. You ultimately have the best stories and they are all true too! You may even be pleasantly surprised at some of your child's ideas.

What other resources are out there?

Hopefully, this has wetted your appetite to take part in ICBD and there are loads of other great things out there at the moment to help you and of course, they are all FREE too! (Grow Your Mindset, love a good freebie!)

  • Twinkl has got a whole host of resources for you to print out and use with a wide variety of age ranges at home and at the moment, as a parent, you can subscribe for free.

  • David Walliams is publishing a free audio book everyday at 11am, during the pandemic for 30 days.

  • Want to just get children loving characters? Take a look at Quentin Blake's illustrations to get children talking about characters - they could make up stories for them for you to talk about.

  • Oxford Owl has another huge range of over 100 online books for your children, aged between 3-11.

  • Another super find is the International Children's Digital Library. This is an absolutely HUGE site.The collection of books on here represent outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world. Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children's literature from the world community.

  • And lastly, if you're not all storied out by now, Storyline Online is another cracking site to use, to get a wide variety of stories in a read aloud format.

I hope that you find this useful, not only to develop your children's love of reading during these times, but also how to use them as a tool to develop mindsets, supporting your child to be the best version of themselves and if you need anymore help or advice, get in touch with us through our Contact Page, we'd love to hear from you.

Much Love to you all


If you like what you've read, why don't you check out our other blogs about mindsets. Or if you would like to know more about Grow Your Mindset click here.

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